Manarola is a hamlet of Riomaggiore, as the other Cinque terre (Five lands) Terre, it is between the Mar Ligure and a steep mountain chain which is part of the Apennine mountains.
The village is situated at the bottom of the Groppo stream valley. The multi-coloured houses are clustered together which is quite typical as are the narrow cobbled streets.
The other four villages comprising the Cinque Terre: northwest are Monterooso, Corniglia and Vernazza whereas Riomaggiore is southeast.
The castle, once a fortress against saracen pirate invasion, is a sort of nucleus of the village and is now a private home. The entrance is in Via del Baluardo.
Punta Bonfiglio is in a favourable position to admire the splendid winding village structure built by the inhabitants of Manarola and opened in 1968 linking it directly to the Marina with the Palaedo steps.
The last part of Via Belvedere is very appealing as it is really and truly like a balcony overlooking the sea and ends in a scenic piazza dedicated to the writer Eugenio Montale.
Manarola can be reached by two main paths, both recommended by CAI (Club Alpino Italiano).
The first ridge path is known as the Alta via delle Cinque Terre(the high path of the Cinque Terre) This old mule track runs along the watershed that separates the Val di Vara from the coast of the Cinque Terre.
Further detailed information: to get to the village by the ridge path you need to take one of the following crosspaths: path 6 at Monte Marvede, path 6/a at Monte Capri or path 02 at Monte Galera.
The other path is part of a more ample itinerary which crosses the entire Riviera Ligure and is known as the blue path, it crosses all of the Cinque Terre from Monterosso to Riomaggiore , from the latter to Manarola it is called the Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Walk) which together with the typical Sciachtetrà wine give Manarola its fame. Differently to the ridge path, this path has a toll defined by the National Park of the Cinque Terre.
Another itinerary worth mentioning is ''La Via dei Santuari''(Path of shrines)which goes through every village of the Cinque Terre, each one with a shrine that can be visited.
The following link has photos immortalizing these wonderful places and a list of suggested itineraries:
Since 1961, during christmas time, an illuminated nativity crib (the largest in the world) is set up on the hills that dominate the village and the characters are made up of thousands and thousands of lights set up on silhouettes. At Easter, on the same hills, there is an illuminated Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) and for the feastday of San Lorenzo there is an illuminated depiction of the saint with the famous gridiron on which he was killed.
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